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PADUCAH SUN (WEEKLY EDITION) (Paducah)

In 1902, four years after the daily Paducah Sun [LCCN: sn85052116] began printing from its refurbished shop in downtown Paducah, the weekly edition — Paducah Sun (Weekly Ed.) — made its debut. The concurrently printed titles were led by Frank M. Fisher and his nephew, Edwin J. Paxton. Fisher had owned Sun Publishing Company — publisher of The Sun and its predecessor Paducah Daily Sun [LCCN: sn85052151] — for more than 20 years prior to Paxton's arrival in 1900.

The weekly edition's lifespan was short and not without confusion. In 1901, the Paducah Sun began to issue The Sunday Chat [LCCN: sn85052182] for "quiet of the Sabbath" reading. By 1902, Paducah Sun (Weekly ed.), was in print. There are hints that this was an attempt to revive the Weekly Sun of yore — the non-extant weekly from the Paducah Daily Sun days — but, more likely, it was meant to solidify a legitimate weekly issue. It seems that neither title was a stable endeavor, what with scattered issues being published. It's unclear when The Sunday Chat ceased but, by June 1902, the name of the weekly edition was formally changed to the Paducah Weekly Sun [LCCN: sn85052115].

Early in the weekly's tenure it appeared to contain much more content than that of its daily sibling. Only four pages to the daily's eight, its national, international, and local news was condensed into 8 narrow columns of very small print. Despite the weekly being issued on Thursday afternoon, the daily continued to print its daily quota, releasing in the morning. This stood in contrast to arch rival Daily News=Democrat's [LCCN: sn85052120] release times for both its daily and weekly editions (Weekly News=Democrat [LCCN: sn85052121]). It wasn't just the issue times of these competitors that mirrored one another; they shared markedly similar titles for both their daily and weekly editions but, more importantly, they were political rivals: The Sun being Republican while The News staunchly Democratic. The papers pounded out their bitter contentions in their editorials.

Turn of the century Kentucky was infamous for its political divisiveness, and there's no better example of that than the Sun vs. News rivalry, but it was also a state of repressive and disturbing social problems all of which were covered at length in The Sun's pages. Kentucky was violently racist, poor, and ill. Morbid accounts of lynchings, whippings, and other hate crimes against African Americans were too often vividly reported. African American, James Carter, was removed from his jail cell by an angry mob of over 200; hung from a tree, then shot 35 times. Or the state's overwhelming level of poverty: In many areas 30% of the population lived at or below the poverty line. An ailing Paducah widow with six children, without means to adequately raise them, had no food, clothes, or bedding for them. Medical problems, particularly infectious diseases, also affected turn of the century Kentuckians. In 1900, 35 of Kentucky's counties reported suffering from smallpox even though a vaccine had been available for over a century. Hospitals, known locally as "pest houses," were used to quarantine the infected. The paper followed Paducah farmer, R.M. Allen, who sued the city after a smallpox hospital was built adjacent to his farm. According to Allen, his property value decreased with the construction. He won his case.

McCracken County land was part of the 1818 Jackson Purchase. Located at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, county seat Paducah (originally called Pekin) was established in 1830. The rivers allowed Paducah to grow and prosper, and equally the Paducah Sun, but they also provided a constant danger. Shifting water levels caused the city to flood in 1867 and 1884 but none would compare to the 1937 flood that buried The Sun's printing office under water for three weeks. But, for a single dry spring, the Paducah Sun (Weekly ed.) provided a quality news supplement to the daily Paducah Sun.